Mint is one of the easiest herbs to grow, often taking over patches of the garden if left unchecked.
Fresh or dried, all mint varieties have myriad uses. This recipe highlights one of the medicinal qualities of mint – using the extract as a natural insect repellent.
You can use dried mint leaves if you prefer – the extract (not strictly speaking an essential oil) will work just as well. It’s also a great way of dealing with a few handfuls of out-of-control herb!
- Quantity of fresh or dried mint leaves – around three handfuls
- Alcohol such as vodka, at least 80% proof – enough to fill your jar
- Clean jar with lid
- Brown/blue glass bottle to store
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#1. If using fresh mint leaves, pick on a dry, preferably sunny morning. If you know pesticides or herbicides haven’t contaminated the leaves, then just give them a good shake and check for any lurking insects. Otherwise, give them a wash in clean water and pat dry on kitchen towels.
#2. Pick off the leaves and tear or chop them into pieces.
#3. Pack the leaves into your jar and pour over the alcohol, leaving around 2 cm of headroom.
Give the jar a shake and store somewhere dark.
#4. Leave for 3 – 5 weeks, shaking the jar every few days.
#5. Once the mint oils have been fully infused with the alcohol – taste a drop to test its strength – strain the liquid and discard the leaves. The tincture is usable at this stage, but can be poured into a clean dish, covered and left to evaporate for a few days to give a more concentrated extract.
#6. Pour into an opaque glass bottle – an empty, washed medicine bottle is ideal – preferably with a dropper lid, and use as needed.
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Use as a Flavoring or Natural Insect Repellent
Mint extract can be used as a flavoring for tea, hot chocolate, baking and more, but it’s true power lies in it’s medicinal qualities. Mix a few drops with a carrier oil such as avocado to make a natural insect repellent that you can apply to the skin. You can also soak cotton wool balls with the tincture and place them wherever you have an insect problem.
Try adding a few drops of mint extract to an un-fragranced salve or balm to massage into your temples to relieve a headache, or add a teaspoon to a hot bath to clear your senses.
The tincture should last for a year, and possibly beyond, if stored in a cool, dark place. You might find that it’s okay to use beyond this, but the tincture will start to lose potency after around 6 months.
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Hello, I love all the mints. I grow spearmint for making homemade soap with rosemary. It has a great smell and soap is great too. Diana W.
Would you share your soap recipe? I’d like to try it.
I would love your soap recipe since I grow both plants ‘ Thanking u in advance,
Thank you for this. I planted 2 plants along our irrigation ditch this summer for this very reason. They are filling out nicely. I’m going to make this today.
I will be planting some mint myself, then I’ll know it’s fresh and not contaminated. Thank you for this great info.
Mint essential oil doesn’t work as well for me as tea tree oil!! Tea tree oil works both to repel mosquitoes and bees but also works better than anything I’ve tried for itching after getting bit or stung!
I hated mowing the lawn, so I planted Peppermint and let it grow into the lawn! Bugs though? Not enough to keep all of them away all the time. The City of Los Angeles learned that hard lesson…banned all insecticides. The outrage later when everyone was getting ticks and fleas on the soccer fields was enough to restart some spraying. Keep experimenting though…The Victorians (later 1800’s had lots of tricks to keep bugs away….but your going to have to study up- there is a LOT of information in old books.
I love mint. I have several different flavors, but I have learned to plant them in containers. They grow in containers fine and because they are contained, I don’t have to worry about them taking over my flower beds.
can I use rubbing alcohol . . . ?
If using only on skin or as bug repellent, rubbing alcohol in 91% strength is good. I f you want flavoring, always use a strong vodka; rubbing alcohol is poison if drunk. Always use vodka if there are children in the home, just in case of childish experimentation.
I like your writing style genuinely enjoying this website .
Mint sprayed where mice have left a trail will “erase” or mask their trail so others cannot follow.